28.1.2015

Vanarama Conference North

Hednesford Town

Bailey (25), Robinson (33), Diggin (80) (penalty)

Gloucester City

Connolly (84)

(2) 3

(0) 1

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

401

Marvin Robinson

L D W D W W L W D W

Colwyn Bay (A) 31.1.15

For the first time in this topsy-turvy campaign, Hednesford move into the play-off positions following a hard-fought win over struggling Gloucester City this evening in this re-arranged Vanarama Conference North game

The Pitmen's recent surge up the table is due to a number of factors, not least the winning formula Rob Smith has stumbled upon after his early season experiments with other formations and personnel. They have taken full advantage of other sides progressing in the F.A. Trophy, picking a consistent eleven for most weeks since the start of December, which has seen results take a turn for the better. Once again, Smith merely tinkered with his in-form side for the visit of Tim Harris' side, bringing cult hero Marvin Robinson back into the fold at Steve Diggin's expense. Glenn Walker was also dropped after feeling unwell in recent days, with Tom Thorley replacing him in midfield

Harris himself had been busy in the transfer market in the last week, bringing in strikers Sahr Kabba and Mo Diop ahead of Saturday's game against fellow strugglers Hyde. Kabba - a prolific scorer in Conference South for the likes of Havant & Waterlooville and Weston-Super-Mare - grabbed two goals on his debut and turning in a man of the match performance

On a cold, breezy January night, barely 400 brave souls came out in support of the two sides, including a fair following from Gloucestershire. They were treated to an excellent first-half performance from the team in white, who went close to opening the scoring through skipper Darren Campion on five minutes; making his way forwards, the left-back cut into the penalty area and drove a shot across the face of goal and out of play

Ben Bailey's long throw set up a chance for big man Robinson three minutes later, as the defender's thrown-in was flicked into the path of Robinson by Richard Batchelor. The two-goal hero in the last home game was off-target on this occasion, however, and scooped his effort over the bar

Jamey Osborne was again at the heart of everything positive from the Pitmen, making a number of runs from deep with his unique smooth style on the ball. Twice he attempted the thread a pass through to Nick Rushton but was denied by timely blocks from the Gloucester defence

Batchelor wasted a good opening on twenty-one minutes, as he fired over the crossbar with a wild shot from twenty yards out

Gloucester's solitary response in the opening quarter came from the head of Sam Avery, who headed wide of Dan Crane's goal after a Femi Orenuga cross had found him at the far post

The home side took a deserved lead on twenty-five minutes in slightly bizarre circumstances, as Campion's cross into the penalty area was met by the top of Ben Bailey's head, beating central defensive partner Paul McCone to the ball. The ball looped up and over the head of Mike Green in the Gloucester goal, dropping just inside the post and finding the corner of the net, much to the bemusement of the Tigers stopper

From the restart, Gloucester really should have been back on level terms, as a corner kick from the left was headed inches wide of goal from the onrushing Tom Webb

Campion denied Gloucester another great chance two minutes later, heading the ball off the line to deny Harry White

After weathering a mini-storm, the Pitmen restored order with a well-crafted second goal on thirty-four minutes. Neat build-up play saw Nick Rushton play a delightful through ball into the path of strike partner Robinson, who scored a carbon copy of his second goal against Chorley ten days ago by sliding in and poking the ball beyond the onrushing Green for his fifth goal of the season

Rushton himself tested the reflexes of Green three minutes later, striking a firm shot straight at the Gloucester number one from sixteen yards out

The confidence in Osborne's game was evident three minutes before half time, as the midfielder had the audacity to try his luck from fully fifty yards after spotting Green off his line. His lobbed effort lacked any real direction, however, and drifted a couple of yards wide of the post

The final action of the half saw Batchelor involved once again, as the midfield man forced Green into a great save after arriving to head James Hurst's cross firmly towards goal

The second half was to be more of a battle for the Pitmen, as Gloucester came back into the game after being outplayed for parts of the first period. Bailey was booked for a foul on Kabba early in the half, with the resultant free-kick headed away from danger by Batchelor at the conceding of a corner kick

Osborne's evening came to an abrupt halt on fifty-two minutes, as the Pitmen's star man was forced off with injury. Walker replaced him in midfield, prompting a reshuffle across the centre of the park for the Pitmen

Another City corner kick on fifty-four minutes saw Webb arrive unmarked at the far post, but his miscued header drifted wide of the target

Robinson became the latest player to receive a caution on sixty-five minutes, as he challenged Green to a loose ball just inside the penalty area and caught the man as he attempted to steal the ball from him

Another corner kick to the visitors created an opening for substitute Adam Connolly on sixty-seven minutes, but his effort flew over the crossbar following Webb's flick-on at the near post

A mazy run from Hurst in the seventy-first minute saw the right-back cut inside two Gloucester players but fire wide of goal with a wild shot from twenty-five yards out

Green was grateful that no-one in a white shirt reacted quickly enough to Bailey's long-range piledriver on seventy-six minutes, as he spilt the defender's powerfully hit drive but scooped the ball up at the second attempt

Diggin was given a run-out by Rob Smith on seventy-eight minutes, with the striker coming on in place of Rushton to partner Robinson up front

The substitute was straight into the action two minutes later, as the Pitmen were awarded a penalty kick with ten minutes left. Walker's burst through the Gloucester defence was eventually ended by Green, who brought down the winger as he attempted to reach the loose ball. The referee awarded the Pitmen a spot-kick and booked Green for his actions, leaving Diggin to confidently fire home from the spot to end the game as a contest

Robinson was given a well-earned rest following the Pitmen's third goal of the evening, with young George McGee given another run out for his loan club

Credit to Gloucester, however, as they continued to push forwards and scored what was to be a consolation goal on eighty-four minutes. Kabba's initial shot was well saved by Crane, but Connolly was on hand to turn the rebound home from close range

McGee could have capped a good Hednesford performance with three minutes to go, as he picked up a pass from Walker before sizing up the goal and hitting a curling shot from twenty yards out that forced Green into a flying save to his left

Gloucester thought they had reduced the deficit further in the final minute of the game, but White's effort was ruled out for an earlier offside

The Pitmen have now won three in a row at home, and are unbeaten at Keys Park since Tamworth won here in late November. A trip to another struggling side in the form of Colwyn Bay follows this weekend, with the Pitmen looking to create a gap between themselves and the other teams chasing that final play-off position

Hednesford Town: Crane, Hurst, Campion ©, Bailey , McCone, Thorley, Osborne (Walker 52), Thomas, Robinson  (McGee 81), Rushton (Diggin 79), Batchelor      Subs Unused: Melbourne, Westwood

Gloucester City: Mike Green , White, Jones, Harris, Avery, Knowles, Orenuga (Diop 72), Webb, Michael Green (Griffin 57), Kabba, Hall (Connolly 57)      Subs Unused: James, Rivers

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